Vice Squad
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Alcohol in Russia

Deaths from acute alcohol poisoning in Russia have been described as "so high that they do not fit into the range of international experience." The good news is, however, that such deaths have fallen by more than half in the last two years (or at least the reported statistics have fallen by more than half), from 40,000 deaths in 2005 to 19,000 deaths in 2007. The Moscow Times article suggests that the reduced deaths are due to a tax increase -- no, not a tax increase on potable alcohol, but a tax increase on industrial alcohol, which has caused Russians to substitute to less poisonous varieties. (For some flavour of Russian proclivities to drink beverage "surrogates," see this Vice Squad post from May 2007.) While acute alcohol poisoning deaths have been falling, however, alcohol-associated domestic violence incidents (reported, again) have been rising substantially.

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